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1130 AUSTRIA (St. Stephan)

The earliest recorded date on a Jewish tombstone in Austria.

1130 - 1195 ISAAC BEN ASHER HALEVI THE YOUNGER (Ha-Bahur) (Speyer, Germany)

Was born on the day his grandfather (of the same name) died. He served as a judge (dayan) in the community and died a martyr after he attacked a mob which was abusing the body of his dead daughter.

1130 MOSES AL DARI ('False Messiah') (Fez, Morocco)

Traveled from Morocco to the Academy of Yosef Ibn Megas at Lucenna, announcing the arrival of the Messiah and other prophecies. He predicted that the first day of Pesach would be the day of the Messiah's arrival, and many Jews sold their possessions in anticipation. When the Messiah failed to arrive, Al Dari fled to Eretz Israel, where he died.

1130 - 1269 ALMOHAD (ara. al-Muwahhidun) DYNASTIES (Spain)

A Berber Muslim dynasty which destroyed most of what was left of the Almoravide dynasty by 1147. By 1150 the conquering armies were already in Spain, Algeria and Tunis. Their intolerance led to many Jews fleeing the areas under their control - including the family of Maimonides.

C. 1131 - 1209 SHESHET BEN ISAAC BENVENISTE, aka "Perfect de Pratis " (France -Spain)

Physician, adviser and poet; grandson of Sheshet ha-Nasi of Barcelona. He served the kings of Aragon Alfonso II as well as the count of Barcelona Pedro II as physician, translator into Arabic, political adviser, and diplomatic envoy. He also wrote texts on medical subjects.

1132 - 1198 EPHRAIM BEN JACOB OF BONN (Germany)

Rabbi, talmudic commentator, and liturgical poet. His Sefer Zekhirah (Book of Remembrance) consists of both the historical events and liturgical poems relating to the massacres of the second and third crusades. He was also the author of the well-known legend describing the martyrdom of Amnon of Mainz, the composer of U-Netanneh Tokef (Let us tell the mighty) prayer for the High Holy Days which was actually written by Kalonymus Ben Meshullam (the Great)Of Mainz, (c. 1000).

1135 - 1204 (20 Tevet 4965) MOSES BEN MAIMON (Maimonides) (Cordova, Spain)

Fled from Spain at the age of thirteen after the capture of Cordova by the Al Mohadan fanatics. He became court physician to Saladin of Egypt. He is famed for his "radical" philosophical work on the unity of reason and faith, Guide for the Perplexed, which was heavily criticized in the Jewish world (especially by Franco-German rabbis). Most of the debate, led by Meir ben Todros Abulafia, concerned rational philosophy and its place within faith and belief in God. The anti-Maimonides school, led by Solomon Montpellier and Jonah Gerunda, insisted that all miracles and aggadic interpretations must be taken literally and that any explanation was heresy. They were also concerned that it would be easier to persuade people to give up beliefs based on rational arguments. Maimonides' greatest work was his Mishna Torah, a guide to Jewish traditions and practices ( see 1180), and is referred to simply as the Rambam (his acronym). He was a prodigious correspondent, answering questions from all over the world. His letter to Yemen, Igeret Teiman, written in Arabic, comforted the community during difficult times. In the letter he discussed the relations with Christianity and Islam and encouraged the Jews, from a historical perspective, to be strong.

1135 - 1154 REIGN OF STEPHEN (England)

During his reign there was intermittent civil war between Matilda (Maud), daughter of Henry I, and her cousin Stephen, grandson of the William the Conqueror. In the end, Matilda's son succeeded in becoming King Henry II. The Jews suffered more than the Christians during the war. Stephen indulged in one of the common practices of kings: freeing Christians from the debts owed to Jews in return for the payment of part of the debt to the king. However, he also protected them from the Second Crusade.


He was known as the Jewish pope because of a Jewish great-grandfather. The legend of Andreas, the baptized boy who remained true to the Jewish religion stemmed from stories about this pope. There was a priest by the name of Anderas who did convert to Judaism (see 1094).

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